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ESOL Online. Every child literate - a shared responsibility.
Ministry of Education.

Reaching a consensus

How to use a consensus round

This activity enables a group of students or participants to reach a consensus on a theme or idea proposed by the teacher. To eliminate the possibility that the students with the strongest competence in English will dominate the discussion, it is important to allow the first three minutes for individual students to jot down their ideas. At this point the teacher must circulate around the classroom to see who needs support. Sometimes students are looking for a specific phrase or word to express their ideas that the teacher can easily provide.

Next, to allow all voices to be heard, the group members share their ideas in a  round-robin format. As students listen to each other's ideas, they silently note which one they most agree with. In a second round-robin, students each express their preferences, again without being interrupted. Finally, a timed discussion ensues. While during the discussion not everybody will participate in equal ways, at least the structure assures that all students will have contributed their opinions and preferences to the solution of the problem. 

Copyright 2007 WestEd. All rights reserved. From Quality Teaching for English Learners, by Aida Walqui and associates.

Reprinted by permission of WestEd, San Francisco.

The benefits of consensus round

  • Each student has a turn and thinking time allows English language learners to rehearse their responses.
  • Students listen to each other without interrupting.

Watch this video to see a year 11 class using a consensus round 

Teaching and learning sequence planning examples:

Primary level:

Secondary level:

Published on: 18 Dec 2017